Antonov has announced that it intends to complete the assembly of the first An-178 airframe in late May. The Ukrainian manufacturer, however, did not say whether the plane would be delivered to the country’s government or to Peru, which ordered a single unit.
This Friday, the An-178 completed six years since its first maiden flight. With financial problems after Russia severed relations with Ukraine, Antonov tries to carry out its cargo aircraft programs and seeks international partners to do so.
The twin-engine airlifter is one of his most recent projects, but it lacks customers. By the end of last year, only Peru had signed a purchase agreement, when the Ukrainian government finally announced an order for three aircraft.
Images released by the planemaker show two airframes being assembled at the Kiev facility, but Antonov said in April that it plans to deliver the four An-178s by 2021.
Developed on the basis of the regional jet An-148 and its improved variant An-158. The first model flew in for the first time in 2004 and the second in 2010, but a few dozen would have been produced.
With high wings and a T-tail, the An-178 was announced in 2010 and presented in April 2015, flying weeks later. The project brings some modern aspects as part of the composite material fuselage and fly-by-wire flight control system, but the cargo capacity is much lower than its main competitor, Embraer C-390 – 19 tons versus 26 tons tons of the Brazilian model.
The program, however, has been moving at a slow pace due to a lack of financial resources. Only in 2019, Antonov started assembling the Peruvian aircraft after four years without delivering any planes.